LRGH subject to small Medicaid reimbursement penalty for readmission rate considered to be too high

LACONIA — Lakes Region General Hospital was among nine hospitals in New Hampshire penalized by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for what are considered excessive readmission rates.

The penalty, introduced in 2012 by the Affordable Care Act, is intended to prod hospitals into ensuring that when they discharge patients they will not need to return in order to eliminate unnecessary care and curb Medicare expenditures. A formula is applied to calculate the penalty, which amounts to a reduction in Medicare's payment for every patient of up to three-percent.

Lakes Region General Hospital was not penalized in the first two years of the program, but this year incurred a penalty of 0.22 percent the fourth lowest levied against the nine hospitals, which will reduce its Medicare payments to 99.78 on the dollar in 2015. With total Medicare payments in the neighborhood of $18 million, the penalty represents a loss of revenue of less than $40,000.

In a prepared statement, Gloria Thornington, director of medical safety and health management at LRGHealthcare, said the corporation is "proud of the record we've had with keeping readmissions to the hospital at a minimum." Since the standards were introduced she said that the hospital pursued "Better Outcomes by Optimizing Safe Transitions" (BOOST) and "Almost Home", programs aimed at minimizing the likelihood of readmission and preparing patients to manage their care.

Thrnington said that "for many of our diagnoses, our readmission rate has consistently been amongst the lowest, putting us in the top 10 percent of hospitals in the Unied States." She said that when patients are discharged, they receive a follow-up call within 48 hours and an appointment with their primary care provider within seven days. "This year's data," she said, "reflects new measures and we see this as a great opportunity to learn where we can improve upon our programs and continue to keep readmissions at a minimum."

The standards have been criticized for failing to adequately adjust for those hospitals, like Lakes Region General Hospital, that serve a disproportionate number of patients enrolled in Medicaid and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), who studies show have relatively high readmission rates.

Man accused of trying to break into Laconia home had left jail 90 minutes earlier

LACONIA — The young man who allegedly tried to break into a home on Anthony Drive Wednesday afternoon had been released from the Belknap County House of Corrections about 90 minutes before he was caught.

Derek Camerato, 19, of Tilton has been arrested Tuesday night by Tilton Police and charged with shoplifting. Because he was intoxicated, he was taken to jail and released at 7:51 a.m. Wednesday.

At 9:30 a.m. police received a report from a woman on Anthony Drive, off the top of Lake Opechee, who reported a man was trying to break into the house across the street from her.

The woman said she she watched Camerato "mule kick" the front door and then go around to the side of the home. Police said one of the windows was smashed and the screen was cut.

Camerato had allegedly been walking through the neighborhood and knocking on doors offering his services as a handyman in the event someone answered. At the home he tried to enter, there was no one home at the time.

When Camerato was apprehended, police said he had a number of items on him that he did not have when he was released from jail, including a hunting knife and a wooden pipe with a small amount of marijuana. A second glass pipe was found in the grass at the victim's house.

Police said he had a number of unusual items in his pockets, like woman's sunglasses, jewelry, and other small concealable items.

During his appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday, Det. Chris Noyes argued that he should be held on cash bail because he violated the terms of his bail within minutes of being released from the jail and poses a risk to the general public.

Camerato's attorney Kate Geraci argued for personal recognizance bail and told the court that he is not a flight risk. She said he has family in the area.

She said he can live at 19 Pine Street in Tilton with one of his friends. Geraci said Camerato has anxiety and is bi-polar. She said he has spent time in hospitals for mental illness. She argued he can't get the help he needs while he is incarcerated.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $500 cash bail. Should he post bail, he is to live in Tilton and stay away from Anthony Drive, his victims and the people who reported him to police.

Anyone who has any information about this case is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252.

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Church's journey to new Lakeport home was one of 'faith, vision & trust'

LACONIA — The Evangelical Baptist Church of Laconia's journey to its newly renovated 28,000 square foot campus in Lakeport was one of ''faith,vision and trust,'' according to David Provan, chairman of the church's building committee.

The journey was symbolically completed on the last Sunday in September with a dedication ceremony at which former Senior Pastor at the church, the Rev. Frank Accardy was one of the featured speakers. Provan credits Accardy with being the inspiration for starting the process which led to the move to the new church.

In a written narrative of the church's building program, Provan wrote that Accardy, who was with the church from 2002 through 2008, understood that the existing 8,300 square foot building, a Veterans Square landmark, limited the church's ability to fulfill its mission and in January 2004 a Needs Assessment Team was formed to evaluate the existing building.

The team was comprised of a mix of members of those who wanted to relocate and who those who favored renovating the Veterans Square church. The team completed its report in September 2005. Shortly thereafter the congregation voted almost unanimously to relocate.

The decision to move was not one which was taken lightly. Listed on the National Historic Register, the white structure so symbolic of early New England churches has been a familiar and beloved landmark in downtown Laconia ever since the construction by the Congregationalists in 1836. At that time, known as the North Church, it stood at the corner of Church and Main streets next to property later occupied by Gale Memorial Library which was built between 1901 and 1903.

Shortly thereafter, the Congregationalists built a new stone church across Pleasant Street and sold the wooden building to the First Christian Church (formerly known as The Peoples Church, now as Evangelical Baptist) which had the structure moved to its current location across from the railroad station.

Selling price of the old church was $1,000 ($600 for the building and $400 for the pipe organ). It cost another $1,999 to move it across the square to the new lot which cost $1,780. Transported on rollers, it went with everything intact. Nor was the building damaged many years later when the 179-foot steeple was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, falling across the square and landing on the roof of the depot. The first Sunday service in the relocated and refurbished church took place on Jan. 2, 1904.

Provan said that as a result of the work of the Needs Assessment Team, improvements were made to the existing building, including installing a new heating system and a roof. The first capital campaign was launched in 2006 and the congregation of 155 pledged $650,000 toward a new church building.

A Building Team was formed and a potential new site was located in Laconia, but wetlands limited the amount of land which could be used and the decision was made to look for another site.

Pastor Accardy retired shortly after that and the building plan was put on hold until 2010 when the reconstituted Building Team began it efforts anew, concentrating primarily on existing buildings, including the former Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church campus in Lakeport, which closed in August 2010.

The initial purchase price was $1.4 million, which included a worship center, classrooms, gym, an administration building, garage and three parking lots.

As the Building Team continued to negotiate and a second capital campaign raised $360,000 in April 2012, shortly before an agreement was reached to purchase the building for $680,000 in April of 2012.

Provan said that improvements were made shortly after the purchase to replace leaking roofing, and the Building Team worked to produce a vision for the newly acquired property.

When a water line broke in January 2013 in the gym building a group of church members went to work immediately to remove standing water from the floor, which proved to be beyond repair. Using a small bobcat was brought into the gym and used to break up the ruined floor. But the insurance company paid for all the damage to the building and the settlement money was used to replace the wood floor, again thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the church.

The Building Team was also able to save the gym addition with support systems designed by Leon Murray, a structural engineer who is the father-in-law of Pastor Dan Lyle, saving the church $400,000 it would have cost the church to demolish and replace the gym addition. That enabled the church to move worship services from Veterans Square to the gym in November 2013.

Provan wrote that Yasharian Construction was able to complete the first phase of the building program for about $641,000 and that, just as funds in the ''Pay-as-You-Go'' building program were about to run out this past February, the Veterans Square building was sold to the Holy Grail Restaurant, enabling the church complete the necessary work to hold its first service in the new Worship Center on Aug. 10 of this year.
Provan said that the church emerged from the first phase of its $1.4 million building program, which included the purchase of the church, debt-free.

He said that work still remains to be done, and that it will be completed by May of 2015, after which the congregation will live with the facility for several years while identifying future improvements which will need to be made.

CAPTION: cuts slugged church lakeport
The Evangelical Baptist Church has competed the first phase of a $1.4 million building project, which included the $680,000 purchase price, of the former Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Lakeport, and is now holding services at its new worship center. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

there's also pix of dedication Sunday taken by Karen Bobotas.

County Home administrator put on paid leave while commission appeals reinstatement verdict

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission has placed Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the decision last week of the county's personnel committee, consisting of the officers of the Belknap County Convention, to reinstate him after the commission terminated his employment for cause.

Last month, the commission terminated Logue for willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner, claiming that he was "untruthful and unreliable'' in dealing with county officials. Logue appealed his termination to the personnel committee, composed of Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), the vice-chairman, and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton, the clerk. The committee held a day-long public hearing, at which attorney Mark Broth of Drummond Woodsun of Manchester presented the case against Logue and Logue spoke in own defense.

Several days later, the committee voted unanimously to reinstate Logue, after finding his refutation of the charges against him to be "credible and persuasive''.

The decision of the committee was met with disdain by a number of employees of the nursing home, more than 40 of whom signed a petition requesting that Logue not be reinstated.

The commission's first step in the appeal process will be to ask the personnel committee to rehear the case. Should the committee decline to grant a rehearing or reaffirm their original decision, the commission could then appeal for relief to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Charlotte Flanagan, who served as interim administrator of the nursing home following Logue's termination, returned to the position yesterday.